Is Hydroponic Farming Profitable?
In this article, we will discuss the basics of Hydroponic Farming, how it works, how it differs from traditional agricultural practices, and if it is actually a good business venture to dabble in.
We will also explore, briefly and concisely, how this new approach to farming can help the environment and make agriculture more accessible in the urban setting. In addition to all that, we will also mention a few hydroponic plants to suit specific climates, setups, and budgets.
This overview is tremendously beneficial for both amateurs and experienced urban farmers, so we hope that you take the time to read it thoroughly.
What is Hydroponics?
By definition, hydroponic farming or hydroponics is an agricultural and horticultural approach to growing plants, herbs, and crops without soil. Water, or an aqueous solvent, may be used as the base for growth, and the source of the plant’s nutrients would be derived from mineral solutions mixed into the solvent. Some of these minerals come from various organic sources, including fowl manure, fish excrement, or other artificial nutrients. Moreover, inert mediums or substrates like stones, pebbles, rocks, nets, or mesh wires can be used to hold the plant to stability.
Although this approach seems to be innovative, the origins of hydroponic farming can be traced back to the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon. This was included in the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World at the time.
Moreover, hydroponic farming principles center on the fact that for plants to photosynthesize, they do not need soil. It is only given that plants rely on the earth for the provision of water and nutrients. When nutrients are dissolved in water, they may be delivered directly to the root system. This can be transmitted with misting, flooding, or immersion. This does not need additional equipment. With the advancement of hydroponic technology, it has been shown that direct exposure to nutrient-rich water may be a more profitable and flexible way of growth than conventional watering.
Conclusively, flowers, herbs, crops, and vegetables grown hydroponically are placed in an inert growth medium supplemented with nutrients, oxygen, and water to produce a healthy harvest. This method leads to increased plant growth, higher yields, and better crop quality.
Benefits of Hydroponic Farming
In reality, this apparently minor change from using soil to grow food to complete ditching soil is quite revolutionary. This is because it enables farmers to produce food anywhere globally, using fewer resources at any time of the year while yielding more produce. Moreover, hydroponic farming is more accessible to people, so anyone can basically grow their own food at this point.
Because of climate change, the growing seasons are in a constant state of flux at the moment. So, as temperatures continue to fluctuate, this farming approach offers everyone a sustainable and stable food source, no matter the situation. This is also helpful in areas where the terrain just does not lend itself well to agricultural operations.
Furthermore, the idea of hyper-local food systems is now made more achievable and viable. Container hydroponic farms can be strategically placed inside the communities and areas with a higher need for fresh and ample food. Moreover, there are a lot of hydroponic plants and crops that you can grow even in a setup with limited space. All you need to do is to do proper research to carry out such a project.
How Does Hydroponics Work?
When it comes to constructing hydroponic systems, there are many ways to go about it. However, the fundamental components comprise the same set of requirements which include the following:
Given that all hydroponics systems will use water as the base, you might as well make it fresh. That said, make sure that it is filtered, with the pH balance maintained at around 6 to 6.5. Suppose the most accessible water source is too basic. In that case, you can alter the acidity with chemicals and solutions you can purchase over-the-counter.
You must allow your plants to breathe, so always leave room for ample oxygen accumulation. Since you’re using water as the base, the roots of your crops won’t have access to oxygen like they would in air pockets in the soil.
To achieve the same result, you need to oxygenate your tank using air stone or air pumps. This kind of machine should be considered when brainstorming on your setup.
In traditional farming practices, your plants and crops require soil as the main source of their nutrients. Since this material is no longer part of the hydroponic farming system, you will need to manually include chemicals, nutrients, and solutions into the oxygenated water to keep your plants healthy. In this case, the three essential nutrients include calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Light and Illumination
As mentioned before, the key process that helps plants process nutrients into nourishment is Photosynthesis. This is a natural process that requires sunlight. That said, if your hydroponic system is set partially indoors or entirely within your home, then you may need to install some specialized lighting equipment to supplement the need for sunlight.
Stability and Support
Since there will be no soil to hold the plant together basically, your plant’s trunk and roots will need something to keep it stable. In this case, you can use inert materials or organic substrates that can hold the plant together. Examples include perlite, coconut fibers, rock wool, peat moss, gravel, stones, and vermiculite.
Also, take note that sand is not a practical choice for the setup. Moreover, make sure that your substrates and growing mediums are also pH-neutral so that it does not negatively affect the system’s balance.
Is Hydroponics Farming Profitable?
While the quick answer to this question would be a big yes, we would need more words to explain why this is so. Let’s start with these three quick points.
Hydroponic Farming Requires Fewer Resources
Hydroponic farms, as opposed to conventional soil-based growing methods, actually need less water. This is because closed water systems do not experience the same levels of evaporation as open farm settings. That said, this water may also be filtered, replenished with solutions and nutrients, then given back to the system. This ensures that water is recycled rather than squandered continuously.
Hydroponic Farming Grows More Produce
Rather than spending their time and energy developing more resilient root systems to seek food since their roots are soaked in essential nutrients, hydroponic plants spend their time and energy climbing upward. Growth rates vary depending on the kind of system and the level of care provided. Still, hydroponic plants may develop up to 25 percent more rapidly than the same crops planted in soil, with a corresponding increase in crop production to boot.
Hydroponic Farming Utilizes Simple Processes
In this setting, you have complete control over the circumstances in which your plants are produced. Consequently, you can quickly isolate variables and conduct experiments! You will be able to repeat success after discovering the optimal combination of light, oxygen, nutrients, and pH-balanced water. You will no longer be surprised by unexpected events.
To elaborate on this, there are 6 types of Hydroponic Systems to suit every kind of setup. This means that whatever your situation is, setting up a system for your hydroponic plants is achievable and workable. Moreover, they are as follows:
Deep Water Culture
- This is all DIY and can be done in the comfort of your own home
- Easy to maintain and troubleshoot
- Not the best option for slow-growing crops
- Requires more temperature regulation mechanics
Read more about the Deep Water Culture Hydroponics System
Ebb and Flow Systems
- It has a versatile and sustainable design for larger plants
- Easy to construct and maintain
- Can accommodate a relatively larger plant life
- More expensive than other setups
- Too reliant on pump performance
Read more about the Ebb and Flow Hydroponics System
- This simple system doesn’t demand constant attention
- It is unobtrusive and doesn’t take much space
- Not the best option for plants that have high water intake
- Because of humidity, the setup is more susceptible to fungus, mold, and rot
Read more about the Wick Hydroponics System
Nutrient Film Techniques
- Designed in modules, so it is more viable for larger and more commercial setups
- Requires fewer nutrients and water to stay functional
- Larger instances of plants overcrowding
- Channels can clog and dry up if the pump fails
Read more about the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) Hydroponics System
- Most portable and transportable hydroponic system
- Because of its setup, you won’t have any problem with oxygenating your plants
- It is one of the more expensive systems to set up
- Requires a delicate balance and intense maintenance
Read more about the Aeroponics Hydroponics System
- This is the best option if you want a large variety of plants to grow
- Can support a larger and commercial-scale setup
- Versatile and adaptive, especially when introducing new plants
- Requires a lot of effort to maintain
- Too complex and elaborate to do on your own
Read more about the Drop Hydroponics System
When it comes down to it, hydroponics is based on a fundamental principle: give plants precisely what and when they need it. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants that use nutrient solutions customized to the requirements of the specific plant being cultivated. That said, to function, hydroponic systems must allow for better control of environmental variables such as pH balance and temperature and nutrients, oxygen, and water.
By continuously monitoring and changing these critical factors, you may begin to understand how to grow your crops properly. You can duplicate those circumstances for all your produce in the near future. We hope that you have more knowledge on how to make hydroponic farming work for you through this article.